Smartly tucked off the beautifully paved cul de sac of New Burlington Place lies newly launched Downtown Mayfair.
It was a blisteringly cold Friday night as Mr Husband and I arrived at the entrance to this culinary Italian hideaway. Large fire lanterns warmly welcomed us into the freshly furnished forties-style interior, complete with a bar serving cocktails (champagne bellinis look to be a firm favourite) and a modern library area.
Large Venetian chandeliers gracefully hang from above and mosaic marble floors give the interior a slick, sleek finish. It’s all in synch with the restaurant’s roots, which is owned by the Cipriani family, famous for Harry’s Bar in Venice and other such establishments.
We were smoothly escorted to our table, facing the DJ, who was playing bar-lounge tracks. We were swiftly served with an utterly moreish bowl of thin and crispy zucchini fries and as we pored over the menu, we noticed our host was suitably well versed on what to taste. We were majorly impressed to hear that he had in fact sampled almost every single authentic northern Italian dish available here. Happy with his hospitality thus far, we decided to stay at his complete mercy for the entire night and asked him to choose our dishes for us. What a great decision it was.
We started off with freshly prepared taster plates of octopus salad with broad beans, peppers and potatoes and fondi di carciofi in tecia – warm globe artichoke in a stunning dressing that gently boosted its flavour.
Next followed a few fresh pasta plates: angel hair dressed in béchamel sauce, topped with cheese and then grilled. Mr Husband was in cheese-heaven upon tasting this creamy, rich tagliolini gratinati, which apparently almost all guests who dine here relish. I personally preferred the ravioli topped with white truffle shavings and the al dente orecchiette tossed in olive oil and broccoli.
A surprise soon followed. Delicate pearls of caviar were served up in a modern black metal tray with a special scooping spoon and placed on a bed of crushed ice. This melt-in-the-mouth sensation made the perfect palate cleanser before our next course.
Suddenly, the hip barometer at Downtown Mayfair rapidly swelled as a large flock of well-clad guests entered to spark further life into the joint. A group of Italian beauties hit the bar downstairs (they have a basement level too that’s great for private groups), while a large Middle Eastern group took to their table for a Friday family feast.
Our grilled dishes arrived and were well prepared, with the same delicacy as the pasta. A chunky portion of Chilean sea bass alla Carlina (a flavoursome tomato, butter, caper sauce) flaked off our forks beautifully and tasted just as good as it looked. Thinly sliced, tender veal cutlets alla Milanese were served with fresh piles of rucola and juicy sweet cherry tomatoes.
A helping of tiramisu to share nicely rounded off our rustic Italian meal but for a change, next time, we’d go for the chocolate soufflé. We were richly fulfilled and ready to battle our way through buzzy Regent Street and into the heart of Soho for late night drinks with some friends.